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Why can’t dogs eat chocolates?

Updated on July 9, 2009

Bars of chocolates, chocolate drinks as well as chocolate cookies and chocolate cakes are permanent fixtures in our refrigerators. People love chocolate. Chocolate is considered to be one of the comfort foods. I don’t know about you but when I have a concern to ponder on, I usually munch a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Aside from gaining weight, eating chocolates would have no other harmful effects on a human body. This is not so for our furry friends. Like their master, dogs love chocolate as well. Some owners use chocolates as a treat or a reward for the pet. This innocuous looking food however, could harm a dog.

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Harmful contents of chocolates

Chocolates contain caffeine and theobromine. These stimulant chemicals are proven to be harmful to dogs. Caffeine in chocolates, similar to the caffeine found in coffee and coffee grounds stimulates the central nervous system, causes vomiting and heart palpitation. Theobromine is a natural component of cacao beans. Humans can digest theobromine, dogs cannot. Because the dog’s system cannot metabolize theobromine, this stimulant throws the central nervous system into haywire. It also affects the heart and the kidneys.

Signs of chocolate poisoning

The signs of poisoning would depend on the amount of chocolate consumed as well as on the kind of chocolate ingested. So how much is too much? A dog that consumed a whole package of milk chocolate may suffer from intestinal problems that will result to diarrhea and vomiting. However, consuming the same amount of dark chocolate or baker’s chocolate can have life threatening effects on the dog. Signs of toxicity would be vomiting and diarrhea. Excessive panting, frequent urination, muscle twitches and loss of coordination will be noticed as well.   Chocolate poisoning will result to hyperactivity as chocolate stimulates the central nervous system; causes heart palpitation, coma and death. Baker’s chocolate and darks chocolate have higher concentration of theobromine than what is found in milk chocolate candies. These types of chocolate are preferred by humans as they are believed to be healthier to consume as compared to milk chocolates. This increases the risk of the dog ingesting dark chocolates.

Treatment

There is actually no specific treatment for chocolate poisoning. Diarrhea can be treated symptomatically so as to prevent dehydration. You can induce vomiting by giving the dog one teaspoon hydrogen peroxide per 10 lbs of body weight.  If large quantity it taken it would be best to take the pet to a veterinary facility. The vet may administer activated charcoal to prevent the toxins from being absorbed by the body and oxygen therapy as well as intravenous medications.

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